FlightSimStore and a personal story
I’ll apologize in advance for interrupting whatever it is that you might be doing with a slightly off-schedule blog posting. But before I get into all the details, allow me to say one simple thing. This blog posting is NOT about me trying to get something for nothing. The purpose of this blog posting is to simply alert my readers to a very important news story which has been bouncing the interwebz for a few days now. As I’ve often said, my writings are typically not about news type stories. I’m just one guy and I really just enjoy sharing my knowledge, sharing my experience and telling a few stories along the way. I don’t always have the time to eat, sleep and breath all the happenings in the global flight sim community. However, I don’t mind sharing information…especially when this information could help others. Second, this writing is not an attempt to “name and shame” anyone. As a matter of fact, I’m going to omit a developers name as it is not my intention to gain anything out of this. I simply want to alert my viewers to some information which I have, hopefully help others in the process and finally….I’d love to be able to purchase the aircraft in question at the discounted rate. Finally, to repeat my first point, this blog posting is NOT about me trying to get something for nothing.
The past week or so, the flight sim community has been made aware of some serious issues taking place with one of our popular online retailers. A few months ago I heard some rumblings on some of the social media platforms I follow regarding issues with the FlightSimStore.com website being down, moving to different servers and issues with customers being able to download purchased items. The issues with downloads were reported by customers who were trying to re-download files they had purchased long ago and even customers who had just completed the online purchase, with money changing hands…but no ability to download the software. I’ve been a customer of the FlightSimStore for many years and were first introduced to them with a purchase of some Orbx scenery as the FlightSimStore (FSS) for many years served as the only online retailer selling Orbx scenery. However, a little over a year ago, Orbx built their own e-commerce system (which is awesome) and removed their products from the FlightSimStore.
As I began to make the move from P3D v3 over to v4 (64 bit) I started the process of downloading the necessary add-ons as they became available for the new 64 bit platform. I keep pretty meticulous records and had made a purchase of a popular add-on aircraft for FSX/P3D (32 bit) over two years ago. But with all the issues I had been hearing from other users, I opted to just wait until the FlightSimStore corrected their website issues, moved their servers and basically just got control of their issues. I’ll admit some time passed and in the course of this, I sort of forgot about this particular aircraft add-on. Well….as I began building my new gaming PC (GBS Beast V), I started looking over my add-on spreadsheet and discovered that I had forgotten to update that one particular payware aircraft.
Now, as most of you will know…not all payware purchased for FSX/P3D (32 bit) can be upgraded/updated for P3D v4 free of charge. Thankfully, 80% (perhaps more) has been made available at no extra cost and some of the balance is available at discounted prices and only a small handful of developers have charged full price. The aircraft in question (which I had purchased from the FlightSimStore over two years ago) was discounted considerably and I was looking forward to purchasing the 64bit version to have in my virtual hangar. But even around the May/June timeframe when I was getting all my add-ons reinstalled on the new PC, others continued to report issues with the FlightSimStore website. So once again I paused just to be on the safe side.
Fast-forward to the present day
Just in the past week or so, many more customers and even other developers have reported major issues with the FlightSimStore. A major flight sim scenery developer, Drzewiecki Design made an announcement last week via their website and their Facebook page (see below)
Here’s a snippet of the various comments from actual Customers.
Even other flight sim news media outlets are discussing this story and urging customers to be cautious or just simply avoid the FlightSimStore. You can read these blogs from FSElite here and here. Even the guys from the popular “On Approach” podcast spent over 14 minutes discussing the issues and their advice is to take screen captures of all your purchase transactions, download what you can and basically avoid the FlightSimStore for any future purchases. You can watch/listen to the FlightSimStore segment via this link. I will just caution my readers that the language used during this segment is NOT Rated G. https://youtu.be/yFIKpnT4P54?t=12m52s
Back to My Story
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing this article as a warning to my readers AND just to share my story as it directly relates to the FlightSimStore debacle. I’ll once again state for the record that I desire no special treatment, I am not writing this in an effort to obtain anything “free” from the developer of a specific aircraft I purchased for FSX/P3D of which I desire to upgrade to P3D v4 compatibility and yes, I’d like to do that at the discounted price. Also, this writing is not designed to be a name and shame either. However, I took the advice and reached out via email to the developer of the aircraft in question and here’s how that email exchange played out.
Email from Jerry to the Developer
I attempted to contact your group via your Facebook page and was told by
XXXXXXXXX to email you. I purchased your XXXXXXXX Aircraft from the
FlightSimStore on 30 May 2016. I made the move to P3D v4 last year,
but have been slow at updating all my various add-ons. As I’m sure
you are aware, the FlightSimStore has been experiencing various
challenges with their website, their files and haven’t been doing a
very good job in providing support to their customers. I’ve been
involved with the flight simulation hobby since the mid 1980’s and am
an active member of the community today and absolutely loving P3D v4.
Fortunately, the majority of my purchases from FSS were Orbx and of
course that is a non-issue now. But the XXXXX is one aircraft which I
would dearly love to have in P3D v4. I realize small developers such
as yourself may not be able to justify the day to day management of
your own retail site and therefore I’m sure selling your products
through 3rd party sites is helpful. But I feel (and hopefully you
agree) that developers should honor the purchases even in situations such as this.
I’ve attached a screenshot of the FlightSimStore XXXX aircraft purchase.
Hopefully you have a solution.
Thank you for your time and prompt attention to this matter.
Response from Developer to Jerry
Thank you for your message.
Yes, we know of the problem with Flight Sim Store.
However, your version is not compatible with Prepar3D V4 anyway, you would need to upgrade your copy, when Flight Sim Store restores the functionality. The upgrades are not free, although they can be made on discounted price if you use the same store where the original copy was purchased
If Flight Sim Store does not restore the XXXXXXX upgrades within the reasonable time, we will find some kind of solution for your case.
Reply from Jerry back to Developer
Please understand that I was NOT asking for anything free. I’m aware I needed to pay for the update and I’m aware the version I have is not compatible. Please let me know what a reasonable timeframe is to wait?
I’ll admit that I’m not really that pleased with your reply as I firmly believe that YOU as the developer of the product needs to stand behind your product regardless of what your online retailers do. While I may purchase something from the FlightSimStore, JustFlight or simMarket, it is YOUR product that I’m purchasing. You truly have an opportunity to help out and I realize my delay in updating is at my own doing…but to be honest the FlightSimStore has been having issues for several months and from all accounts, they very likely will not survive this.
But I do truly appreciate you getting back to me.
Reply from Developer back to Jerry
Please understand, that as developers we are indeed responsible for the functionality of the product, but not for the commercial or marketing side of it.
The discount is done entirely by the stores, and it is not something that has to do with us.
If it happens that Flight Sim Store is definitely no longer selling our product, we will attempt to make an agreement with another store to transfer the customer base to enable to discounts for them, but since it was never attempted before, I can’t give a guarantee that this will succeed and the other store accepts such transfer
I am sorry I can’t assist you properly on this matter. But we do have an indication that XXXXX sales are coming back online at Flight Sim Store shortly.
My Not So Final Thoughts
While I’m not pleased with the answers/responses from the developer, I certainly can appreciate that perhaps they are only now coming to terms with this situation. Hopefully, they are discussing it and they are researching their options. I also would sincerely hope they are also working directly with the FlightSimStore as well. But from a customers viewpoint, I believe they are wrong in saying they have no responsibility with the commercial or marketing side of the transaction. Remember, I work in the IT software business and while software ownership/licensing etc. is a tricky area….one simply can’t just walk away and say your only responsibility is to support the functionality of the product and wash their hands of anything to do with the marketing, sales and distribution. Said in another more direct way, ANY software developer worth their salt, would be bending over backwards to help their customers and I’m hopeful this is exactly what will end up happening.
I also will acknowledge this developer has stated multiple times they ARE willing to work with me at a point in time in the future. I’m still not 100% clear just how much more time needs to pass before they are willing to help and just exactly what this help will be. So I’ll continue to wait and see….but I’ll say this…unless I begin hearing that the FlightSimStore has resolved all their issues with product downloads AND are taking care of their customers, I’m not interested in spending any more money with this particular online retailer. My gut tells me it will all be in vain.
Finally, I’ll be honest and say that I don’t understand how retailer discounts work in the flight sim world. Especially when taking into consideration what the developer stated “The discount is done entirely by the stores, and it is not something that has to do with us”. What does this actually mean? If I’m a developer of a flight sim add-on and selling that add-on through an online retailer, would I not expect to receive X amount of money for each product sold? Are the online retailers simply waiving the 30% fee they would normally charge the developer in these cases and passing these savings down to us the consumer? In my mind, the discount is the developers way of saying, “I know you’ve purchased XXXX aircraft for FSX/P3D 32bit at full price, as the P3D v4 aircraft is not a 100% rewrite of code, we’re allowing you to purchase at a considerable discount”. Sounds fair right?
So What Do I Want?
My goal is two fold. First, I would like this particular developer to ensure that all customers of their aircraft product from the flightsimstore, who also fall into the same scenario as I’ve described…have the opportunity to update/upgrade their aircraft at the discounted rates being advertised by simMarket, JustFlight and FSPilotShop. As for me, yes….absolutely I would also appreciate the same opportunity.
Mr. Developer….please don’t subject your customers to the potential of losing further money in dealing with an online retailer who appears to show no compassion or remorse to their customers. Please take the actions necessary to have YOUR Customers license information moved from the FlightSimStore over to simMarket, JustFlight or FSPilotShop so we can all continue to enjoy your beautiful aircraft in Prepar3d v4. For those that purchased it for FSX/P3D 32bit, allow us to benefit from the same discount at another online retailer.
Thank you for reading.